There are those of us who wake up before the alarm and there are those of us who wake up after it. I woke up late. And now I'm late. Very late. I missed class and the doctor was closed. The shop was shut and the market over. The alarm wasn't loud enough or I ignored it . So, now It's too late. It's over. I will be as I am, as I always was and as I always will be. Late. Very late. I've thought about trying to catch up, trying to make up for lost time. I've considered driving too fast to get where I need to go. I've hoped if I just worked a little harder I could finish the work others have long forgotten about and moved on from. Moved on to new and better things. Different things. Things that require an experience that I neglected to sign up for. In fact flatly refused to partake in. An experience which can only take roots before the hill of youth is climbed. I'm too far from the slopes of that hill and I now sit at the summit with heavy weights tied to my legs. Weights the prevent me from walking but a few steps. Not far enough to change. They're too heavy. So, I will be as I am, as I always was and as I always will be.
Thirty. Thirty years. Thirty years old. Twenty-nine. Not twenty-nine. Not twenty-nine years old. Not anymore. So the big 3 0. Well.... what the fuck happened? Where did it go. The twenties, my twenties, where did they fucking go. They went. That's where they went. They just fucking went. Thirty with no job, no money, single and alone. Not quite alone. I have a motorcycle. She's mine. I have her. She's one hell of a fucking ride. Hours of riding her and I never get tired. Then there's the butterflies. But they're between me the Egret and Ching Fang Lee. She doesn't believe me. Thinks I'm crazy and/or stupid. But.... she doesn't see them dance. Or fuck. I do. He stalks her, wastes his energy and when he finally captures her he's too fucked to fuck. Ken what ah mean likes n awe that. So I'm thirty and Irvine's back on the shelf like he he never left. Fucked off to Chicago after signing my jeans in the cave. Acid wash, he liked them and I liked him. They're beneath me now. But he's back. The filthy cunt. Same rules apply. Oh fuck that's his. Not mine. The whiskey's gone, the fags have gone, the girls have gone, the white devil has gone, my balls have gone. My passport is empty and firm. Tony's a fucking farmer. Farm boy. Cherry picking just like the shop days. Always a fucking cherry picking cunt. Drip, drip drippity drip. Turn off the fucking self loathing I can't sleep.
Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip,
Suntory Whiskey; 330ml of cheap, barely drinkable Asian whiskey, a rocking chair, 30 degree heat, a fan, sweat beads on my forehead, a foreign land and a laptop. I should feel like Hemingway but I don't. Not even fucking close. There is about as much inspiration running through these fingers as the taste in the yellow piss that I'm drinking. Drinking because there is fuck all else to do. Actually, drinking because I want to be Kerouac. Not that I want to write like him I just want to be the him, the idea of him or have his infamy. Have his woman, have his men, have his writing retreat in Big Sur, have articles written about me, have a following have...... whiskey and why?
I guess most of us don't really want to write we just want to be writers. Maybe that's just me but I doubt it. The difference is that they were writers and thus became what we aspire to become only we expect to do it without actually writing anything of importance, anything of substance or imagination or originality or love or life or sex or drugs or or or or...... whiskey and why?
I always feel the same regardless of what happens whether it be a short story, a novella, a script, a short film, a trip to L.A., a feature length movie, a review a whatever the fuck I always feel the same. I am a criminal in a world where Wilde is the law, a charlatan in a world where Orwell is the truth, a vagabond in a world where Ellis is the establishment. Fucking whiskey....... whiskey and why?
Whiskey. That's why.
n.b. I wrote this a few days ago but Weebly decided to delete it.
Last week I took a four and a half hour train journey from the south of Taiwan to the north. A few days before Mr. Gisby requested that we all help him get The Preservation of The Olive Branch into the shortlist of The People's Book Prize. I decided it would be a good time to read the book.
This was the fourth book that I've read of Brendan's and so I had no reservations about reading it. I very much enjoy Brendan's writing.
Firstly it is to be said that without the passage of time, some three decades or so, this book would have been impossible to write. So, in some ways, this book is special if not unique. Most writers, especially of my age, do not have work which they have forgotten about, work that has been dormant for such a long period of time.
The book is also set in a time that I have no memory of, The Cold War, I found the story interesting for this reason. The paranoia and the proximity people were total destruction. However, this story lives in Brendan's review of it. An honest and emotional review of a work he had long forgotten.
As the train headed north on its journey so did Brendan take me on a separate journey through his revisiting of the book.
Brendan's reaction, criticisms and praise of a piece of work which had sat in a box for so long is both honest and revealing. At intervals during the story Brendan lets the reader know what he is feeling as he reads it and as we read it together.
The four and a half hour train journey passed in an instant. I was lost in the book for that time. I will be giving The Preservation of The Olive Branch my vote not because Brendan is a friend but because this is a book that deserves my vote.
It is a book which, in part, has waited very patiently for an audience and Brendan has brought it back to life in a unique way.
In 2013 I received an e-mail from a man in California claiming to be a producer. His name was Joe Dain. The e-mail explained that he had a director by the name of Vincent Sabella who wanted to adapt my short story 'Crack: it gives you wings' into a short film. He asked if I would be interested in allowing them to do that. At first I was skeptical, as I am sure you can imagine, but after some correspondence it became apparent that they were serious. Fast forward one year or so later and the film was completed and I was invited to California to attend the premiere.
The whole experience was surreal on many levels. A short story I had written in India had been found on Mcstorytellers by a director in California and made in to a short film. Watching his interpretation of the story on a big screen surrounded by industry people and my brother was an experience I will never forget.
Below is the theater and my favorite picture from the shoot featuring the director himself Mr. Vincent Sabella and actress Alison Sieke.
In my humble opinion the movie was excellent and far surpassed what I had written in the 2,194 words of the short story. Upon completion the film was entered into film festivals all over the world and has thus far been submitted to the final of both the IDYLLWILD and SYS Film Festivals. We are still waiting to hear back from 29 other festivals.
And if all this wasn't already enough Mr. Dain and Mr. Sabella now want to adapt my novella The Care Home into a feature length film.
The Care Home was published by the ever supportive and talented Brendan Gisby of Mcstorytellers in 2013. I am currently writing the screenplay and the film will be produced by Joe Dain and directed by Vincent Sabella.
Through and as a result of Mcstorytellers The Care Home has sold 684 copies and continues to sell. It has 37 reviews on Amazon at an average of 4.7 stars and now is in the process of becoming a feature length film.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brendan Gisby and the McStorytellers community, Joe Dain and Vincent Sabella.
This wee piece is the first thing I've written in months. I wrote it four days ago and I had no intention of publishing it but in light of recent events....
At the age of thirty some people of age may say I am too young, too inexperienced or too opinionated to know much of love, life, relationships or personalities. I don't know if that's true but what I do know is that I've always known when my parts of my life were coming to an end. I've quit jobs just before companies turned bad, I've turned away from friends just before their morals went south and I've walked away from girlfriends as they were preparing to walk away from me. Now, an arrogant man may say that my removal could be the cause of their demise, a selfish man may say that I should have stayed and accompanied them on their downfall or an honest man may say that I abandoned my responsibilities in search of self preservation. All may be true. But this time it's different. This time I will descend into hell before I leap into freedom. This time I will be the one who is left to crawl through the shit that I have helped to smear over our lives. This time the memories that I have furnished with lies will become my nightmare and not hers. She will walk away from this with her pride intact, with her arrogance entrenched in her heart and her love as caged as it has always been. I spent my life married to the Earth. Her beaches were my lovers, her mountains were my mistresses and her cities were my whores. I loved her unconditionally and she rarely caused me regret. She was big and bold, beautiful and artistic, sexual, spiritual and supportive. But I took her for granted and in time I began to become tired of her bosom, I grew weary of her joy and I became jaded by her everlasting wonder. And then I met a girl whose eyes were more beautiful than the seas of Thailand, whose love was more addictive than the opium of India and whose control over me was more powerful than the sunsets of Greece. I fell out of love with the Earth and into forever with her. Forever is where I will stay in perpetual doubt. I was never doubtful of the Earth she was eternal, she showered me in gifts and her lands were littered with excitement. But now I live in doubt. My chest is tight, my mind is fractured and my pride is diminished. I am less than a shadow of a child half my years. I am a child once more. A lonely child. My convictions have been shattered and my experiences rendered useless for they are of no value in this. I have no knowledge of my situation. I walk blindly through the hot streets, covered in sweat and lost beneath the buildings that hide my distress from the strangers who stare at my face. But in the streets I find no solace or salvation only discomfort and questions. In the streets I am more lonely than the widows of war. And yet despite it all I will stay. Not for morality or loyalty but for hope and promise.
The BBC travel section is currently running a section called How I Quit My Job to Travel and although I quite like articles it seemed to me that they were not indicative of the average traveller. I decided to write an article and send it to BBC Travel describing the average traveller. Suffice to say I never received a reply. So here it is and I hope you enjoy it more than the BBC did.
How I Quit My Job to Travel: The Salesman/The Average Joe Traveller
In late winter 2007 I decided to quit my job to travel the world. I was twenty-one, a sales manager living in Edinburgh and terrified that my life was on an irreversible negative track. I had no plans, no savings and no concrete idea of where I wanted to go but I decided to leave anyway. I gave notice to my employer and left the United Kingdom one month later. Since then I have been to more than twenty different countries, lived on three different continents and never looked back. However, like the majority of travellers I do not make money from travelling. I’m not a travel writer, I don’t have a successful blog and I have no transferable skills that allow me to make money wherever my plane may land. I, like most of us, travel by any means.
Just like the average traveller I didn’t decide to travel to find myself or anything else quite so spiritual. I decided to travel to escape the monotony of life at the coalface. Others are motivated to travel by a bad breakup, some are looking for better weather, some want to relax after many years of solid work and others are searching for a place where they can build a new life. I wanted to give myself the time and space to understand where my position was in this world. I was desperate to meet as many like minded people as possible, listen to their stories and borrow their ideas. I wanted to see places that would make my head explode and open my mind to the possibilities of life beyond the norm.
In Edinburgh I was a young sales manager whose days were spent thinking about nothing other than profit and whose nights were spent spending that profit on vice. It was a soulless existence and one that I knew could not last. I knew that in order to break the cycle that I needed to get off the ride, jump ship, flee or run away. There was and is no shame in admitting that travel is as much an escape as it is a dive into the unknown.
The preparations for my first trip were little more than a couple of guide books, an open multi-stop ticket and my last month’s wage. I said my goodbyes and began my travels in Spain. There are many ways to travel none of which are right or wrong. There are the lucky few who manage to make a living from travelling through writing, blogging, photography and other travel related industries and if that is your desire I say go for it with every ounce of energy you have. But the majority of travellers I have met in these past seven years tend to be living their lives on a wing and prayer; they get by through dogged determination coupled with an unrivalled enthusiasm for life which is infectious to all who experience it. This energy for living is worth its weight in gold and is often the difference between a cold train station bench and a warm bed.
The distance that these attributes can take you is not to be underestimated. Many people are worried about travelling, in part, because they imagine that they will find themselves lost and without money or opportunity. However, there has been many times where I or fellow travellers have, in fact, been spoilt for choice.
Of course enthusiasm does not pay for flight tickets or hotel rooms but it does increase the likelihood of getting that last minute job just before you spend your last fifty pounds. A successful traveller must be prepared to sell their labour in ways they never that they would. You could be a sheep shearer in New Zealand, you could sell tickets for music events in Australia, you could be a burger chef in Greece, you could be a tree planter in Canada, you could be a barman in Cambodia, you could be a yacht hand in Antigua, you could be a waiter in New York, you could teach English in Mexico, you could lead jungle tours in India, you could be a mermaid instructor in the Philippines, you could open a bar in Thailand, you could busk in Taiwan, you could be a surf instructor in Sri Lanka or you could be a diving instructor on the Andaman Islands and so the list goes on. And, in between all of that, you can lie lazily under the midday sun on a paradise beach with the warm waves licking your toes, the sound of African Jazz in the background and the smell of fried prawns in your nostrils and wonder what took you so long to make that first step.
And, when times get really tough, no one hungry enough is too embarrassed to make that desperate phone call home. My advice is to go with as much money as possible but don’t think you need to save ten thousand pounds over two years to do it. In my experience the more time you intend to spend saving the less likely it is you will actually end up on that aeroplane. I know of people who left their home country with as little as one thousand pounds in their bank accounts and never returned.
What travelling gave me was freedom and the time to take advantage of that freedom. Whether I was working on a building site in Australia or a bar in Greece I always felt like I was living life on my own terms and that is an inspiring feeling. I always knew I wanted to be a writer and travelling gave me the inspiration and time to give it a go. Seven years on I am a regular contributor to a short story website, I have had my first novella published, I’m working on my second book and one of my stories has been made into a short movie in Hollywood. And, although I’ve made no money from them, these small achievements give me a great deal of satisfaction. I offer this information only as examples of what can happen simply by taking a side step away from the norm. In December I got married in Hong Kong. I met my Taiwanese wife on a beach in Southern India. We lived in Scotland for a while before moving to Taiwan where I am now teaching English before returning to India in a few months. At our wedding was an American, a Frenchman, a Hungarian, a Chinese woman, a few Taiwanese, a few Brits and a girl from Macau.
Travelling creates opportunities that otherwise may have been impossible. It gives one the confidence to chase unrealistic dreams and occasionally accomplish them. It presents ways of living that otherwise you would not have been exposed to.
I often get asked about the practicalities of long term travel. The first thing I would say is that it isn’t a particularly practical lifestyle but that’s part of the joy. Apart from an initial amount of money to get you going I believe that a positive attitude towards new experiences, new cultures and new attitudes is essential for a successful life on the road. You have to be willing to say yes to opportunities which may be foreign to you. After that make sure you have a good backpack, travel insurance, the minimum amount of clothes, a stocked MP3 player or two, a laptop if you intend on writing, a travel pillow, a very thin sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner, a deck of cards and, although it’s not cool, a decent guidebook.
I have had uncountable conversations with people who say I wish I’d travelled or I regret not travelling. I have never had a conversation where someone has said to me I wish I’d never travelled or I regret travelling. Stop thinking about it and just travel.
Harry, Dorian and Lord Henry were completely unaware of the new joy that surrounded them. They continued to talk about the painting and who it should belong to. Of course, Lord Henry tried to lay claim and make payment, but neither Harry nor Dorian were interested in his advances. Their conversation although occasionally beautiful could be very difficult to follow. They battled to outwit each other while maintaining the thin veil of friendship. Nicky sat quite quietly trying to ignore their pontificating as it buzzed around his ears. Why is it that the wind only blows in the shade? Why not in the clearings of baked in sunshine? Was the wind defeated by the sunlight? Nicky thought, as his three companions discussed the beauty of youth; their voices fuelled by vanity and their opinions formed in kilns of jealousy. It was almost 4pm, the sun was hot and the clouds were gone, it was clearly the first day of summer yet the moon still lingered in the sky watching the sun and the world it reincarnated with an obvious envy in its eyes. The sun had given birth to ten thousand white butterflies that very morning, it had painted the leaves on the trees lime green and created beds of shadows for the stray dogs of the park who danced between the sun and the shade undecided as to which temperature was best suited for midday sleep. The moon could only watch as tiny purple flowers sprouted from the thick grass and weeds. They offered a small feast to the ten thousand butterflies who fluttered between them with the excitement of a drunk at a brothel trying to decide which girl would best relieve his tensions. And yet, despite the wonder of the park, Lord Henry continued to talk in ignorance of his surroundings entertained only by his voice and the messages it carried. His focus moved to American girls and their comparison to English roses. He liked them despite their vulgarity. His friends could not agree. Nicky and the park continued to be in spite of them.
In the spiral of life down the stairs of age my friends pass me on the way to their destiny. They skip and they leap, they dive and descend into pools of religious experience where Satan and Jesus pull on their limbs, fighting for their souls but mainly for their attention and money. As they cascade whiskey waterfalls and ascend cocaine mountains I watch in desperation wishing they would just follow me to The Jumping Rabbit, sit by my side, sip brown beer and tell me they’re never going to leave. We could all sit there on seats made of lips and shoot the shit into blue air. Gaelic circles would fill our eyes and our ears could be intoxicated with John Langan and his band of bearded men; cellos and bones, guitars and doubles basses, chains and boxes, life and music. Instead, when the early hours come and the headaches set in The Jumping Rabbit empties out onto Paris streets, Indian beaches, Taiwanese mountains, Edinburgh offices, American highways, Canadian lakes and Caribbean seas as we all drift away in the direction of certain uncertainty. The ramblers and vagabonds evoke the deepest emotion while saying the shallowest goodbyes. They are, we are, as fickle as Warhol and as loving as Venus but our love is for the road and the people who we see on it and not for the regulars of quiet bars in immovable cities. But on those special days, when the Sun revolves around the Earth and the despots meet at The Jumping Rabbit we are all friends once more, if for only a moment, the greatest moment.
For Alea, thanks for the painting. Lee and Kate.
She was the type of girl who wanted to be loved and never pitied. And in return she only offered love. She was a girl of even temperament who could only become excited by the sound of rolling dice. She was a girl who would stroke the arm of her lover, calming him down and soothing the beast within in him rather than cowering from his rage and allowing him to destroy what little furniture they had. Despite her name and her beauty she was not Spanish nor did she speak the language. Her name was the product of a forgotten colonial past. All she had from that time were her Latin smile and a penchant for fatatas. She was an artist. Her paintings were obviously feminist yet her attitude to living was free from protest or oppression. Despite her water colour bound vagina her sex was free for one man and he neither entombed nor forced her to fulfil his mammalian sexual desires. She was, and is, occasionally willing and occasionally unwilling largely depending on the thickness of his cigarette breath or his level of inebriation. He would smoke menthols and drink cheap red wine to increase his chances of copulation but she was wise to his American clandestine tactics and she could often be heard laughing sarcastically at his clumsy advances before shushing him to sleep. She was not a girl to take bearded fools lightly. There are some that say she found her lover whimpering in an alleyway with a thorn in his paw and unable to speak the language of his surroundings. Others say that she was wooed by his country guitar a gravel voice. But everyone agrees that without her he would be homeless. Regardless, to see them together is to witness harmony. She gave him a home and allowed him to be himself; and there he grows, fed and watered by her energy and love. She is the only one who can ignore his imaginary friend who insists on going by the name of Dr Charles (although to be quite frank his medical credentials are not worth the salty mango ink they are written with). He talks to the doctor and she strokes his arm without judgement. Miss Santos may only be one of a few of her kind but she’s as humble as an apple pie and as sweet as the vanilla ice-cream that smothers it.